Blockchain logistics technology has taken a major step toward widespread deployment. The Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) Standards Council Board announced it has approved its first official standard and first official framework as part of the organization’s mission to provide a single answer to the question, “Where is my shipment?”
BiTA Working Groups were established in August 2018. Over the past six months, through the collaborative efforts of members spanning logistics, supply chain and technology companies from around the globe and across all transportation modes, BiTA says it has accomplished a major feat in its quest to create a data standard for the movement of goods. Following a submission at the end of January, a 30-day review period by the Data Formats Technical Committee commenced; the documents were scrutinized and then submitted to the Standards Council for their ratification and publication.
The result is BiTA Standard 120-2019 Location Component Specification — the organization’s first data format specification. The Tracking Data Framework Profile is the first foundation document of the council, providing a roadmap for future data component development.
Up until now, BiTA says, there has been no consensus on the framework over which associated Blockchain applications could be built. The absence of data standards creates confusion, the group says, and contributes to the rise of proprietary blockchain networks.
Instead, BiTA says it is working to create a common framework for the global supply chain and transportation industries. It is delicate work, the organization admits, since different companies have different perspectives on what tracking and visibility entail using Blockchain.
Ben Kothari, Chief Solutions Architect at Ampliflex and Chair of the BiTA Tracking Document Data Component Working Group, commenting on the challenges associated with standards development, said, "Defining terms within the standards was a problem we had to solve - some things were quite obvious like defining location tracking, but some others, for example, defining the concept of a shipment, would be a bit more difficult. All these divergent views on definitions also posed a challenge while building standards. Since we are just starting out, and there are not many legacy standards to work with, the scope of these tasks also became an issue."
“The BiTA Standards Council is focused on creating open source and royalty-free standards with a focus and emphasis on data formats and interoperability,” said Patrick Duffy, the director of engagement at BiTA. “While we are working with sometimes competitive organizations that run parallel with each other, together BiTA will create a common language or vernacular for global supply chain businesses – driving efficiencies by eliminating red-tape and increasing machine-to-machine processes.”
Pratik Soni added, "This achievement is largely due to the hard work, motivation, and commitment of the BiTA team members. We have individuals from both small and large enterprises collaborating and working together to achieve something phenomenal. The Working Groups agreed to weekly hour-long meetings and hit key deliverables in addition to managing the deliverables for their day jobs. This dedication helped us reduce the typical timeline for standards publication."
The past few weeks have seen an acceleration in production from BiTA and its Standards Council, the organization noted in a press release. At the February 27th meeting of its Board of Directors, BiTA also elected its first Standards Council Chair, Dale Chrystie of FedEx, who in conjunction with BiTA members, will seek to drive faster and more comprehensive publication of data standards throughout 2019.